The Court of Appeal has hit forcibly the appeal of Nyesom Wike seeking a dismissal of the judgment of the Rivers election petition tribunal which sacked him as governor of the state. In a 110-page ruling delivered by Justice M.B. Dongban-Mensem, the Court ruled that the election of Nyesom Wike did not comply with the standards of the electoral act. And on that account, has ordered a rerun in 90 days.
The five-man tribunal headed by Justice Suleiman Ambrosa had, in a judgment on October 24 voided Wike’s election and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a supplementary election in the state.
The tribunal in its ruling, revealed that the character of voters called by Wike were called into question under cross-examination and that it agreed that the evidence of the witnesses of Wike and INEC was incredible and undependable.
In dealing with the applications to arrive at a final decision, the Court of Appeal made sure that it decided all the seven issues raised by Governor Wike in favour of Dakuku Peterside and the All Progressives Congress party.
The court also declined to disregard the findings of a lower tribunal, stating that the number of witnesses is not the main focus but evaluation of the strength of evidence before the trial court.
Details of The Court’s Decisions On All The Issues Raised
Issue one – on fair hearing resolved for the APC candidate, Dakuku – The appellate court also revealed that it has evaluated the guidelines of the Independent National Electoral Commission and regards them too important and valuable to be interfered with, adding that the court agrees that gubernatorial election was ruined by overwhelming violence.
On issue two – concerning competence of ruling by the new chairman in the lower tribunal, stamps, issuance of service and jurisdiction, the court ruled it was in order.
On issue three – about locus standing to institute the case at the tribunal in 21 days, the issue was again resolved in APC’s favor. The court defined the role of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Wike, as crying more than bereaved.
Issue four – on INEC manuals, guidelines and non-compliance including non-issuance of pre-hearing notices by the chairman of the lower tribunal, court resolved in APC’s favor saying it was immaterial.
Issue five is on the dependence on documentary evidence by the tribunal resolved for APC
On issue six – as to whether the lower tribunal was right on card readers, the appeal court said in the evaluation of the evidence before the tribunal after a thorough analysis of the subject matter of card readers, and its use, the lead judge stated categorically that card readers guarantees credible elections.
The Court stated that INEC manuals were consistent with the provisions of electoral Act.
The Court then dismissed Wike’s appeal on all grounds and ordered INEC to conduct a fresh governorship election in Rivers state within 90 days.
However, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has revealed that he is heading to the Supreme court following the Appeal court judgement. He has instructed his lawyers to appeal today’s judgment of the Court of Appeal which ordered fresh governorship election in the State.
In a statement issued by Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to the Rivers State Governor on Electronic Media, Governor Wike stated that he disagrees with the judgment, thus his decision to exhaust his constitutional right by challenging the Appeal Court judgment at the Supreme Court. He promised the people of the state that he will use all constitutional processes to protect the mandate they gave him freely
The governor said that he still remains the duly elected governor of Rivers State and will go on with all the projects already in his hand pending the determination of his appeal by the Supreme Court.